The start of PSG with Galtier
Paris Saint-Germain began the campaign for another French league title. While Mbappe is recovering from injury, Lionel Messi and Neymar have taken on leading roles. The team is not managed by a world-famous manager, but by a purely French top man, Christophe Galtier. This may pose some problems, typical for the Parisians, but they started confidently – with a routine defeat of the team-underdog Clermont. Let’s look at what has changed in the team this summer and what the club can now count on.
Galtier will have to tame the star illness of the main players
PSG is an unfortunate copy of the Galacticos from the beginning of the noughties. Yes, there are tops Mbappe, Ramos, Neymar, Messi, Icardi, Donnaruma. But the club’s selectors, buying the tops, did not think about the impact on the team’s microclimate. As a result, the Parisians are unlikely to win the Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup. In the summer they miraculously managed to keep their main asset – Kylian. It is rumored that the Frenchman will be allowed to influence the transfer policy of the club and the choice of the sporting director and head coach.
With such a set of inputs will have to work mentor Christophe Galtier, who just got to a similar level, and sports director Luis Kampusch. Their first actions are aimed precisely at team building – the players began to severely restrict visits to nightclubs, set time limits for appearance at the base before training sessions, banned mobile devices during team breakfasts and lunches, and promised to punish for violation of the order.
Whether such actions will help channel the players’ energy in the right direction remains to be seen, but the idea itself is quite promising. You can start to judge the cohesion after the first setbacks and the start of the Champions League.
Finally they stopped calling up world-renowned players, but continue to spend money
The division of the team into camps is probably not the main reason for PSG’s failures, but the result of the corresponding work in the transfer market. This summer it was decided not to bring world stars. They limited themselves to the main goals. Firstly, they extended Mbappe. Of course, the Parisians have too many status players in attack, and it is time to discard some (it is difficult to explain Icardi why he plays 40 minutes). That said, Kylian is positioned as the face of the club. Side problems will have to be solved as they arise.
Secondly, we brought in young players for the future. The 22-year-old midfielder Vitinho came from Porto for 40 million euros. Lille brought in 24-year-old Renato Sanchez. The Parisians also picked up 19-year-old Sporting defender Nuno Mendes and Reims forward Hugo Equitique on loan. And if the new midfielders still somehow fit into the rotation, the need to acquire Ekitike is very questionable. To impose competition on any of the French grandee’s attacking players is something out of the realm of fantasy. Overall, it’s better than buying Lewandowski and the conundrum of how to place him on the field.
They started with a rout – but it’s too early to say that the players have accepted Galtier’s demands
Messi has already begun to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the fans at PSG and remembered the best times of interaction with Neymar. In the opening round of Ligue 1 against Clermont, the Argentine had a double and an assist, while the Brazilian had an assist, a hat-trick and a goal.
Galtier is confident that the players are getting used to working without the ball and getting more involved in pressing:
We have a lot of talented players, no doubt, but the main thing is the collective mindset: everyone wants to get the ball back as quickly as possible and act intensely… These players love to play with each other. They want to score and they want to defend as a team. Our team likes to work and enjoy it.
But we should not forget that Clermont and the next team Montpellier are easy opponents for Paris. Lille and Monaco should at least show some resistance in the third and fourth rounds respectively. The main measure of success, as always, will be the European Cups.
If they fail to win the UEFA Champions League again, all successes will be forgotten
No one will pay attention to a routine victory in Ligue 1, and any progress in the team’s behavior and play will be forgotten if the Parisians do not succeed in the European competitions. Last year, under Mauricio Pochettino, the French outfit crashed out of the Liga 1/8 finals against Real Madrid, although they beat the creamy side in the first leg.
The former PSG coach blamed his failure on bad luck:
“We did a fair job, we worked hard, but we were unlucky in the final minutes against Real Madrid. Last year we reached the semifinals and Mbappe got injured in the first game against Manchester City. With him we would have reached the final, because before that we knocked out Barcelona and Bayern.
But failures cannot be repeated from year to year – before that there were defeats to Manchester City, Bayern, Manchester United and the extravaganza against Barcelona. Over the past 10 years, the Parisians have only twice made it to the semi-finals, once to the final – and always at the crucial moment gave weakness. The last time, they took a two-match lead against Real Madrid but gave up the second game. It may be that Galtier can do something about PSG’s painful history in European competitions – but the fact that no coach before him has been able to do anything is sceptical.